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Ngcobo's suspension highlights the importance of conducting reference checks

by , 23 October 2013
The South African Police Service has confirmed acting Crime Intelligence head, Major-General Chris Ngcobo, has been placed on special leave. This after irregularities were found in his stated qualifications, eNCA reports. According to reports, the discrepancy in Ngcobo's academic qualification is now at the heart of an internal and criminal investigation. And National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says she wants both wrapped up as quickly as possible. Ngcobo's suspension has cast the spotlight on the importance of conducting proper reference checks. Here's what you need to know about conducting reference checks.

'You must make sure all your hiring decisions are backed up by planning and deliberate effort,' warns the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

Failure to do this will get you in the situation that the South African Police Service currently finds itself in.

And unfortunately for them, it's not the first time.

According to eNCA, last month, senior KwaZulu-Natal police official, Vincent Mdunge, resigned amid allegations he didn't have a matric certificate.

To avoid similar problems, make sure you carry out thorough reference checks on potential employees.

Here's what you need to know about conducting reference checks

Labour law is on your side. This means you're allowed to conduct reference checks.

But you must conduct these checks without breaking the law. And that means only checking any job-related information.

It's essential for you to verify previous employment and qualifications. Keep in mind that the interview process will determine the technical ability and effectiveness of the candidate.

According to Danie Strydom, CEO of QVS, one of the largest qualifications verification services in South Africa, on average about 13% of the degrees submitted to them for verification turn out fraudulent to some extent, reports the Sowetan.

Strydom adds that 'often, the symbols are changed to reflect a higher pass or subjects are added for which the student had never registered. In many cases the degrees and diplomas are outright fakes – many obtained from degree mills in the United States where for a few hundred dollars they will provide near perfect fakes of degrees from any university in South Africa or elsewhere in the world.'

This just goes to show you can't afford to overlook the importance of conducting reference checks.

Remember to get permission from the candidate to conduct background checks. Include this permission statement in your application forms to show you have the candidate's permission to look into his past employment and background.

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